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Steve Flowers’s new book, Of Goats & Governors, finds enthusiastic reception by political and business leaders

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 by Lisa Harrison

Of Goats & Governors by Steve FlowersTalking politics is a favorite Alabama pastime. At long last, a generation’s worth of tales “you couldn’t make up if you tried” has been collected and delightfully recounted by Alabama’s leading political commentator, Steve Flowers.

Of Goats & Governors: Six Decades of Colorful Alabama Political Stories, just published by NewSouth Books, is off to a stellar launch with Governor Robert Bentley among its first readers. Steve Flowers is being featured in newspapers and radio and television interviews as he travels to book events across the state, where he share stories from his rich collection of tall tales and small tales about famous and lesser known Alabama politicians of the twentieth century, including the likes of Howell Heflin, Big Jim Folsom, and others. There is nobody better to relate this history than Flowers.

Alabama governor Robert Bentley enjoys Steve Flowers's new book Of Goats & Governors

Alabama governor Robert Bentley enjoys
Steve Flowers’s new book Of Goats & Governors

The Troy Messenger recently profiled Flowers on the occasion of the book’s publication. Flowers told the paper, “Few states have as fascinating a political history as Alabama. I was fortunate to have rubbed elbows with some of the most interesting figures in 20th-century American government and politics.” The article recounts Flowers’s career in Alabama politics from legislature page through representative through his current occupation as the state’s leading political commentator. Flowers’s book talks have been featured in papers including the Cullman Times, Trussville Tribune, and the Daily Mountain Eagle.

Flowers launched the Of Goats & Governors book tour in Cullman with a visit to the Cullman Times, a talk to regional realtors, and a signing at Deb’s Bookstore. Flowers stopped at the Haleyville Library next and went on to Jasper with a visit to the Daily Mountain Eagle and a presentation at the Walker County Republican annual summer meeting. Through the fall, Flowers will present at over 40 other venues including the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery (October 6) — Governor Robert Bentley will attend the reception — the Birmingham Library (October 22), and the Auburn University Library and East Alabama Museum in Opelika (November 12).

Of Goats & Governors is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

National Trust for Historic Preservation names Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee to its End of Summer Reads list

Friday, August 21st, 2015 by Lisa Harrison

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee by Ellen WeissThe National Trust for Historic Preservation named Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African-American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington, by Dr. Ellen Weiss, to its “End of Summer Reads for the Preservation Buff” list on their PreservationNation blog. The blog recommends the book for “those who like their history with a heaping helping of social context.” The list of 14 titles includes classics as well as recently published works. Inclusion as a favorite by the National Trust is an honor for Dr. Weiss.

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee interweaves the life of the first academically trained African American architect with his life’s work — the campus of Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. In this richly illustrated architectural history, the author delves into such questions of how a black boy born in North Carolina shortly after the Civil War could earn a professional architecture degree at MIT, and how he then used his design and administrative skills to further Booker T. Washington’s agenda of community solidarity and, in defiance of strengthening Jim Crow, the public expression of racial pride and progress. The book also considers such issues as architectural education for African Americans at the turn of the twentieth century, the white donors who funded Tuskegee’s buildings, other Tuskegee architects, and Taylor’s buildings elsewhere.

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee is available from NewSouth Books, or from your favorite bookstore.

Remembering Julian Bond

Monday, August 17th, 2015 by Brian Seidman

NewSouth Books mourns the untimely loss of our friend and noted civil rights leader Julian Bond, who died over the weekend at age 75. Bond was one of the organizers of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), President Emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center, national chairman of the NAACP, a longtime Georgia state senator, a founder of the Institute for Southern Studies, a distinguished professor of history, and an internationally known lecturer, writer, and commentator. Bond wrote forewords and commentary for several NewSouth titles, including the autobiography of fellow SNCC member Bob Zellner, The Wrong Side of Murder Creek.

Bond is pictured in March 2015 with NewSouth editor-in-chief Randall Williams (left) and Will Campbell, an attorney from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, during a bus tour Williams was narrating of civil rights sites in Montgomery and Lowndes County. This was part of a civil rights study tour that Bond and his wife, Pamela Horowitz, hosted for the University of Virginia each spring. Horowitz, Williams, and Campbell were staffers at the Southern Poverty Law Center in the 1970s, while Bond was SPLC president.

“Julian was unusual among civil rights leaders in that he was an intellectual first and an activist second, more inclined to analysis than agitation, and more comfortable influencing opinion than making news, though he did plenty of the latter, too,” said Williams. “He never wavered from his principled stands. He was steadfastly against war, injustice, and poverty, and passionately for peace, human dignity, and equality of opportunity. And even though he was an accomplished historian, he paid close attention to popular culture, and he was always the best-informed, smartest, and funniest person in the room. He left us far too soon, and we will miss him more than we realize even in our grief of the moment.”

Randall Williams, Julian Bond, and Will Campbell, on a civil rights study tour for the University of Virginia

Clifton Taulbert reflects on Charleston church tragedy in Huffington Post

Friday, June 26th, 2015 by Brian Seidman

The Invitation by Clifton TaulbertAt the same time bestselling author and motivational speaker Clifton Taulbert participated in the GlobalMindED leadership conference in Denver last week along with an audience of college students, a young man took nine lives in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. As Dylann Roof was being arraigned, Taulbert spoke to the conference about his memoir The Invitation, which recounts reconciliation between Taulbert and a South Carolina plantation owner who revives in Taulbert memories of his childhood in the Jim Crow South.

Fellow GlobalMindED participant Carol Carter shared Taulbert’s thoughts in the Huffington Post:

At Friday noon in South Carolina, young Dylann Roof would appear before the court, and in Denver, I would address the conference. I briefly spoke to the conference and the young people in particular — reading from The Invitation — the recent story of my encounter with a nearly ninety-year-old Allendale, South Carolina plantation owner whom I had met at the turn of the century. Our paths crossed for five years and during those years, I witnessed the possibilities of what can happen when the lingering lessons of race and place come face-to-face with the promising possibilities of the future. I wanted the audience of bright minds and even brighter futures to know that the tragedy in Charleston was our shared tragedy — not a news item soon to be replaced by another breaking story. I challenged the young people and the adults who listened in to embrace the idea that we have the capacity to both innovate and transform our culture. Beyond the conference venue, there was indeed another world — a world that needs not only the best of our minds, but the habits of our hearts in daily action. I know this is possible! I had witnessed transformation at work in Allendale’s Roselawn Plantation when Miss Camille Cunningham Sharp intentionally built in my presence the community that had eluded my childhood.

Read Clifton Taulbert’s full remarks in “Two Different Worlds, One Week” from the Huffington Post.

Clifton Taulbert’s The Invitation is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Andrew Glaze, Poet Laureate of Alabama, inducted into Alabama Writers Hall of Fame at inaugural ceremony

Monday, June 15th, 2015 by Anna Fahlberg

Overheard in a Drugstore by Andrew GlazeAndrew Glaze, Poet Laureate of Alabama and author of the forthcoming poetry collection Overheard in a Bookstore and also Remembering Thunder, has been inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame. The event was hosted by the Alabama Center for the Book and sponsored by the Alabama Writers’ Forum.

Glaze, currently in his nineties, was the oldest living recipient of the award. In addition to Andrew Glaze, other notable inductees include Harper Lee and Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Bragg. Posthumous recipients included Zora Neale Hurston, novelist Albert Murray, and writer Helen Keller. An Associated Press article on the event was carried nationwide, including in the Park Record of Park City, Utah.

At the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame induction ceremony, from left: Cathy Randall (for Harper Lee); Keller Johnson Thompson (for Helen Keller); Bert Hitchcock (for Johnson Jones Hooper); Sonia Sanchez; Andrew Glaze; Rick Bragg; John Jeter (for Sena Jeter Naslund); Valerie Boyd (for Zora Neale Hurston); Paul Devlin (for Albert Murray); Kathleen Thompson (for Helen Norris Bell); Edward Russell March III (for William March); Mary Lou Meaher (for Augusta Jane Evans Wilson). Photo by Elizabeth Wyngarden Limbaugh.

At the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame induction ceremony, from left: Cathy Randall (for Harper Lee); Keller Johnson Thompson (for Helen Keller); Bert Hitchcock (for Johnson Jones Hooper); Sonia Sanchez; Andrew Glaze; Rick Bragg; John Jeter (for Sena Jeter Naslund); Valerie Boyd (for Zora Neale Hurston); Paul Devlin (for Albert Murray); Kathleen Thompson (for Helen Norris Bell); Edward Russell March III (for William March); Mary Lou Meaher (for Augusta Jane Evans Wilson). Photo by Elizabeth Wyngarden Limbaugh.

Glaze has been highly praised in the New York Times, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and honored with awards from Poetry Magazine and the Southeastern Booksellers Association. His first full-length collection, Damned Ugly Children (1966), was named a “Notable Book” by the American Library Association. Glaze has a forthcoming collection of verse, Overheard in a Drugstore, due out the first of August. The new collection is his first since Remembering Thunder, an anthology of his previous work, which was published by NewSouth Books in 2003. In his praise for Remembering Thunder, poet Pablo Medina sums it up perfectly: “There are few poets today who have the sharp eye and fierce tongue of Andrew Glaze.”

Andrew Glaze, Alabama Writers Hall of Fame inductee (photo by Elizabeth Glaze Searle)

Andrew Glaze with his Alabama Writers Hall of Fame induction medal
(photo by Elizabeth Glaze Searle)

Overheard in a Drugstore will be available directly from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or from your favorite bookstore.

Ellen Weiss discusses legacy of Robert R. Taylor with US Postal Service

Thursday, May 28th, 2015 by Kelhi DePace

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington by Ellen WeissDr. Ellen Weiss, author of Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington (NewSouth Books, 2011), recently spoke with the US Postal Service in an interview about Robert R. Taylor. Taylor, the first academically-trained African American architect in the United States, designed buildings for Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University). On February 12, the US Postal Service inducted Taylor into their Black Heritage stamp series.

In the interview, Weiss — Emerita Professor of the Tulane University School of Architecture — describes Taylor’s architectural style and legacy, which may be seen in the buildings he designed at Tuskegee as well as the industrial education programs he supervised, expanding opportunities for African American students. Weiss reveals that she first learned of Taylor when living near Tuskegee in the 1980s. When asked how Taylor might have reacted to seeing his face on a US postage stamp, Weiss says that Taylor “would have been surprised to learn that any black person was on a stamp.” Check out the USPS blog to read the interview.

Weiss’s Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee details Taylor’s life and work with rich illustrations. As Taylor worked during the era of Jim Crow, Weiss considers his work as an expression of racial pride and progress. The book received the Award of Excellence from the Southeastern Society of Architectural Historians.

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Vince Matthews event, CD release with Frye Gaillard at Country Music Hall of Fame

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 by Lisa Harrison

Watermelon Wine: Remembering the Golden Years of Country Music by Frye Gaillard

On Saturday, June 6, 2015, Frye Gaillard will read from his book, Watermelon Wine: Remembering the Golden Years of Country Music, at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Gaillard will be part of a celebration of the life and legacy of the late Vince Matthews, a songwriter whose songs were recorded by Johnny Cash, Gordon Lightfoot, Crystal Gayle, Gene Watson, Charlie Pride, Waylon Jennings and others, and who once cut an album produced by Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Jack Clement, and Shel Silverstein. For an odd set of reasons, the album was never released . . . until now.

“Vince was a great and colorful human being, as well as a great songwriter,” said Gaillard, “and I had the honor of writing about him in Watermelon Wine, and again in the liner notes for the CD, ‘Kingston Springs Suite,’ which also features Vince’s co-writer, Jim Casey. The resurrection of this historic record was engineered by Nashville producer-musicologist, Mark Linn, and if there was ever a labor of love this was it. At the Hall of Fame I’ll get to share the stage with Mark, as well as Jim Casey and his fellow songwriting greats, Danny Flowers and Chris Gantry. What a thrill.”

Watermelon Wine is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Remembering Guy Carawan, civil rights activist and folk singer

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 by Lisa Harrison
Guy and Candie Carawan, authors of Sing for Freedom. (Courtesy Patheos)

Civil rights activist and folk singer Guy Carawan died on May 3 after a long illness. Guy and his wife Candie co-authored Sing For Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs, published by NewSouth Books in 2007.

Carawan was perhaps best known for introducing the song “We Shall Overcome” to the civil rights movement. In a tribute to the musician, National Public Radio featured excerpts from an archived story on the song. Carawan recalled learning the piece from a musician who performed it with guitar accompaniment. But when Carawan performed it with guitar for student activists, they had another idea:

“And then at a certain point, those young singers who knew a lot of a cappella styles – they said, lay that guitar down, boy. We can do the song better [laughter]. And they put that sort of triplet to it and sang it a cappella with all those harmonies. It had a way of rendering it – a style that some very powerful young singers got behind spread.”

ABC News spoke with Candie Carawan, who told them, “Guy very peacefully slipped away. When you know somebody is on their way, it was really the best way to go, and I was very grateful that was how it was.”

Guy Carawan’s legacy will continue through the Highlander Research and Education Center with which he was closely associated, and the song that continues to be performed 55 years after he taught it to young activists.

Sing For Freedom is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Journey to the Wilderness by Frye Gaillard a beautiful “meditation” on how Civil War is remembered

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 by Lisa Harrison

Journey to the Wilderness by Frye Gaillard

Journey to the Wilderness: War, Memory, and a Southern Family’s Civil War Letters, by award-winning author Frye Gaillard and newly published by NewSouth Books, has garnered strong early reviews. Readers praise the elegance of Gaillard’s prose and the insight of his commentary on a very personal topic: his ancestors’ Civil War experiences and his own changing view of the war from his typical Southern upbringing through his adult reflections on its effects and meaning.

Writing for the Tuscaloosa News, Don Noble notes that Gaillard “is now recognized as one of Alabama’s most prolific and most important non- fiction writers with books on Southern literature, civil rights, NASCAR, country music, Jimmy Carter and, generally, all things Southern.” Of Journey to the Wilderness, Noble says Gaillard “structures his own meditation on the past in a candid, informed, beautifully written commentary on a series of excerpts from a collection of Gaillard family Civil War letters.”

Historian Mike Bunn, who blogs at The Historian’s Manifesto, says, “Frye Gaillard features a carefully-selected and edited batch of correspondence that, combined with his own commentary, offers a sweeping look at how the Civil War was anticipated, endured, and remembered by the people who lived through and helped shape our collective memory of the conflict. Journey to the Wilderness is a provocative book.”

The Charlotte Observer declares, “Frye Gaillard has done a great service by publishing these heartbreaking letters from three men who recorded their thoughts on the battlefield and the many relatives who waited at home, sometimes in vain. He has helped us accept the fact that pain — both physical and mental — far exceeded the so-called glory of that horrible war.”

The Montgomery Advertiser calls Gaillard “a thoughtful writer” and notes, “It is very hard to stop reading this book. His insightful commentary and the letters he includes let readers see the emotional conflicts the war brought and left in its wake. In Journey to the Wilderness, Gaillard [finds] no magic wand to resolve the war’s legacy, but he does enable the reader to understand it better.”

Critics agree that Journey to the Wilderness is one of the best reads yet from one of the South’s most important writers.

Journey to the Wilderness is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

The Week on Bob Zellner’s walk to protest demise of rural American healthcare

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 by Lisa Harrison

The USA edition of the British paper The Week featured Bob Zellner (pictured fourth from left) — author of The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement, published by NewSouth Books — in a article on the partnership between a conservative and a progressive activist advocating on behalf of rural healthcare, an endangered species.

Democrat Zellner and his friend Adam O’Neal, the Reublican mayor of Belhaven, North Carolina, were interviewed by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove about an arduous and sometimes lonely two week-long walk from Belhaven to Washington, D.C. the pair made in the summer of 2014 to draw attention to the demise of rural hospitals caused by states’ refusals to expand Medicaid. The walk will be made again beginning June 1, with the men planning this time to be accompanied by 283 walkers representing the number of hospitals closed. More information on the walk is available at the Walk from NC to DC website.

The protest began when a Belhaven resident died waiting for transport to a hospital after the local hospital was closed due to lack of state funding.

The Week points out, “‘Critical access’ hospitals were established during the Truman administration to provide life-saving healthcare to America’s heartland, where people often find themselves too far removed from a regional hospital to receive timely treatment in an emergency. Because they do not see the volume of patients that have become the norm at major regional hospitals, these critical access hospitals often require federal subsidies to keep the doors open. This is nothing new; their existence has been a justified expense for millions of Americans since 1949.”

The Week adds, “For Zellner, this is a deadlock rooted in Southern history. He draws a direct connection between the civil rights marches of the 1960s and today’s Moral Movement in North Carolina, which has sided with Mayor O’Neal and the people of Belhaven.”

Bob Zellner has spent a lifetime working on behalf of the underprivileged. His life story from his years in SNCC to his current work is recounted in The Wrong Side of Murder Creek.

The Wrong Side of Murder Creek is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.